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2023 Middle School Winners


E-waste: A Golden Opportunity

Surya Arunkumar

Pearson Ranch Middle School Austin, TX

Surya is an 8th grader at Pearson Ranch Middle School in Austin, Texas where he has lived his whole life with his parents and older sister, Nila. It was actually Nila who inspired him to take part in the World of 8 Billion contest this year. He watched her participate in last year’s World of 7 Billion contest and it looked like so much fun that he wanted to give it a shot. He had some prior experience animating short videos for PTA Reflections, a national program that encourages students to explore the arts and express themselves through the media of their choice.

When it came down to picking his topic and subtopic, Surya focused on e-waste because he saw ties between human population growth and an increased production of e-waste. And, while he understands that population growth isn’t inherently a bad thing, he is aware that it “causes a lot of unprecedented problems.” He noticed there is a lot of focus on the negative impacts that too much technology can have on our mental health, but there is less focus on the negative impacts technology has on our environment and physical well-being. In his research he found that a lot of problems are caused by the improper handling of e-waste as people try to extract the valuable materials from within our electronic devices. He felt that if there was a structured and safe way for this extraction, it could limit e-waste harm, while allowing us to reuse the valuable resources.

Overall, Surya really enjoyed the process of planning and animating his video. He found the one-minute time limit to be a challenge, but one that he enjoyed because he learned how to share his research concisely. His advice for next year’s participants is: “Do something that you like and have fun doing it,” and to plan out your video in advance, giving yourself plenty of time to complete each step.

When he’s not animating videos for a contest, Surya enjoys playing his violin, whistling tunes, and creating music using his synthesizer. Besides flexing his musical talents, Surya enjoys learning how to find patterns in numbers and making something complicated simple. He finds time to participate in multiple different math competitions because they help him destress. This includes Destination Imagination, a creative problem-solving competition, with his sister. Last year their team made it to the Global Finals.

E-waste: A Golden Opportunity

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